Daily planner

Here's a look at the main events Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

While we slept

Two days after her bronze medal performance in the super combined, Julia Mancuso returned to the slopes late Tuesday night for the downhill. Her sizzling run in that portion of the super suggests the Squaw Valley star has a real chance to earn her fifth Olympic medal. ... In the wee hours, the U.S. women faced Canada in hockey with the No. 1 seed in the semifinals at stake. For full results, check www.mercurynews.com./olympics.

For you early risers

One of the greatest speed skaters in American history takes the ice just before dawn (6 a.m.). Shani Davis goes for his fifth Olympic medal and his third consecutive gold in the 1,000 meters. Davis' toughest competition could come from teammate Brian Hansen. The event won't be shown live.

Buckle up: The puck drops today

For some mainstream sports fans, the Winter Olympics begin today with the start of the men's hockey tournament. It could be an epic event with powerhouse teams from Canada and Sweden, the United States in a contending role and the Russians as dangerous underdogs on their home soil. The tournament began late Tuesday night but picks up Wednesday morning when the Czech Republic, led by the ageless Jaromir Jagr (shown), collides with Sweden, the 2006 Olympic champion (live broadcast at 9 a.m. on USA Network). The Swedes are without injured stars Johan Franzen and Henrik Sedin but have perhaps the best goaltender in the tournament: 2012 Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist.

Figure skating: Pairs medal round

The pairs competition concludes today with the free skate at 7:45 a.m. (live on NBCSN). The American tandem of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir has little chance for a medal after finishing ninth in the short program. If Russians Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov don't win the gold, there ought to be an investigation. Check that: There probably will be regardless -- this is figure skating, after all.

On the slopes: women's halfpipe

The United States has a sterling chance to win gold in the high-flying women's snowboard halfpipe with Kelly Clark, the 2002 Olympic champ, Elena Hight and Arielle Gold. (We swear that's her name; she's the younger sister of men's snowboarder Taylor Gold). The 9:30 a.m. event will be held for primetime on NBC. Speaking of ...

Prime-time lineup

NBC's pre-packaged primetime lineup, which might be without host Bob Costas -- he was benched Tuesday night in favor of Matt Lauer because of an eye infection -- will focus on the pairs figure skating and the women's downhill (Mancuso). Also look for coverage of the women's halfpipe and the men's speed skating.

For night owls

The men's ski slopestyle final is set for 1:30 a.m. (Thursday morning). Nick Goepper, from the skiing mecca of Fort Wayne, Ind., is considered the United States' best chance for a medal. ... And at 4:30 a.m., the U.S. men's hockey team hits the ice to face Slovakia. If you're interested, the game will be shown live on NBCSN.

WANT IT LIVE? GET THE APP

NBC and its family of networks will provide 1,539 hours of coverage, but the only place you can watch everything live is online.

The choice events will only be shown on TV on a delayed basis as part of NBC's prepackaged primetime broadcast. The only way to have access to everything live is on your digital devices through the NBC Sports Live Extra app. It's free to download, but you'll need to be a cable or satellite subscriber in order to log-in. For more information, go to: http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/help.